Experimental Particle Physics Research Group

Funded PhD studentships

We are currently accepting applications for STFC and University funded studentships in our group for a September 2020 start. These studentships are available for UK as well as EU nationals, and projects may be available on any of the experiments our group is currently involved in. Interviews for shortlisted candidates are expected to take place in February/March of 2020. Please apply using the online application form. Please state in the Finance section of the online form that you are applying for the STFC EPP studentships.

Some examples of current projects:

Investigating BSM contributions to processes with top and bottom quarks in ATLAS

Lacking clear signals of physics beyond the Standard Model, it is crucial to investigate whether small BSM physics contributions may affect either rare or kinematically difficult Standard Model processes. Focusing mainly on the associated production of top and bottom quarks with vector bosons or missing transverse momentum from the production of invisible dark matter particles, the candidate will develop a strategy to use search techniques together with  inclusive and differential cross section measurements sensitive to different BSM processes, also using the framework of Standard Model Effective Field Theories. Given the current limits, advanced analysis techniques, possibly involving the use of machine learning techniques, will have to be explored. The ATLAS-Sussex group has a remarkable track record in investigating new physics connected with third generation quarks, in particular in the area of supersymmetry and dark matter production. The group has also had significant contributions in all measurements of ttZ production in three-lepton final states performed so far in ATLAS: profiting from this, the candidate will be ideally positioned to make a large impact in this sector, also through close contact with CERN-based experts. (Supervisor: Prof. Iacapo Vivarelli)

NOvA and DUNE Neutrino Oscillations

Applications are invited from talented and creative students for a PhD place in Experimental Particle Physics at the University of Sussex on the NOvA and DUNE long-baseline neutrino oscillation experiments. The recent discovery of the last neutrino mixing angle (theta13) has opened a door to discovering the pattern of the neutrino masses and whether neutrinos violate CP symmetry: two of the very last missing pieces of the standard model of particle physics extended to include neutrino masses. Neutrinos may provide the answer to the big question of why the universe is dominated by matter and not antimatter. With the NOvA experiment you will have the opportunity to compare data taken with a beam of neutrinos to those from a beam of antineutrinos, looking for differences. The physics reach of NOvA is unique due to its long 810 km baseline combined with the high power and well understood beam of (anti)neutrinos. The DUNE experiment is the successor to NOvA and will use huge liquid argon TPC detectors. With DUNE you will have the opportunity to help design and build the experiment for the future. (Supervisor: Prof. Jeff Hartnell)

ATLAS BSM searches in multileptonic electroweak signatures

A studentship is available to work on a data intensive project to be conducted on the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), under the supervision of Professor Antonella De Santo. The project is to search for new physics phenomena Beyond the Standard Model (BSM) of particle physics, exploring BSM scenarios that provide viable solutions to the origin of dark matter in our universe. Searches will be conducted using multileptonic electroweak signatures in ATLAS, including very challenging “compressed scenarios” (with small mass differences between particles involved in relevant decay chains), or in scenarios where long-lived new particles may be produced. Advanced analysis techniques (e.g. Machine Learning) will be considered to optimise the analysis strategy for relevant signals. Triggering is an important aspect of BSM searches and the new student will spend a fraction of their time working on the ATLAS trigger system, to characterise and further develop BSM triggering strategies for the LHC Run-3 data-taking period and in view of future luminosity upgrades (HL-LHC phase).

SNO+ Neutrino Experiment

Applications are invited from talented and creative students for a PhD place in Experimental Particle Physics, to join the Sussex group working on the SNO+ experiment under the supervision of Dr Lisa Falk. SNO+ offers a rich programme of neutrino physics, which includes neutrinoless double beta decay, antineutrinos from reactors and geothermal activity, solar neutrinos and a supernova watch. It is located at SNOLAB, 2 km underground in the Creighton mine in Canada. Data-taking commenced in 2017. The successful candidate is expected to work on the analysis of antineutrinos, focusing on an oscillation measurement using nearby reactor sources. The student will also spend some fraction of their time developing software for the calibration of the experiment and for data quality assurance, as well as participating in SNO+ experimental operations. The project is likely to involve spending an extended period of time at SNOLAB.

ATLAS Inner Detector Trigger Development and Searches for Electroweak SUSY

A studentship is available to work with Professor Fabrizio Salvatore on the characterisation of the ATLAS Inner Detector (ID) Trigger and on the analysis of ATLAS data, looking for Beyond the Standard Model (BSM) physics at the ATLAS experiment. The student will work on the development, testing and commissioning of ID trigger algorithms to efficiently select electron-, muon- and tau-triggered events at the start of (and during) Run3  of the ATLAS experiment. This is a task for which the Sussex group have leadership in the experiment. The Sussex group is also one of the leaders in the search for BSM physics in Electroweak SUSY. The student will search for SUSY in ATLAS data, with specific emphasis on final states with one or more tau events in VBF (2taus + 2 jets + missing energies) and ISR (2taus + jet + missing energy) scenarios, which are going to hold competitive sensitivities for SUSY in the Large Hadron Collider Run 3 data. The student will be studying new techniques (ML, MVAs, etc) and/or new variables for the analysis, as well as possible new triggers to select these events in ATLAS data.

Dark matter search with DUNE

The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) will be the next generation neutrino observatory. This 40 ktonne liquid argon TPC will be located 1 mile underground in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota and be exposed to the world's most intense accelerator driven neutrino beam from Fermilab near Chicago. Its science goals are to study neutrino oscillation, determine if there is CP violation in the lepton sector and make precision measurements of oscillation parameters. It will also search for GUT signals like proton decay or neutron anti-neutron oscillations and act as a telescope for neutrinos coming from supernova explosions and the sun. In addition, dark Matter can be gravitationally trapped in the sun, annihilate, and produce neutrinos, which can then be detected by DUNE. This studentship would involve developing the methods for triggering and detecting dark matter generated neutrinos as well as determining the sensitivity to these signatures. The student will work at the interface between theory and experiment, especially in the DAQ system. Some of the algorithms developed during the studentship can be tested in the next run of the ProtoDUNE detectors at CERN in 2021. The project is under the supervision of Professor Simon Peeters, in partnership with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) Particle Physics Department (PPD). RAL-PPD is at the heart of the UK activities in DUNE, providing overall leadership and project management in the UK as well as the international technical lead for DAQ systems of the far detector.